Author: Simone Elkeles
Series: (Wild Cards #1)
Published: January 2nd 2014
(first published October 1st 2013)
Publisher:  Walker Books UK
Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
External Links: Book DepositoryGoodreads

Synopsis: After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

Review: I know there’s a reason why I’m so excited to read this book. I know deep down Simone Elkeles would not fail me. She exceeded my expectations yet again. She delivers excellent stories, swoon worthy moments and undeniably interesting characters. And this book, Wild Cards is another proof of her superb writing. I laughed, swooned and smiled at the end; and when I have this feeling of satisfaction afterwards I know that the book has served its purpose.

Derek Fitzpatrick has lots on his hands. His dad is somewhere under the sea, locked up in a submarine. His very young step mother is pregnant and now he was kicked out of school because of a group prank. His step mom suggested that he come along with them to Chicago. There he met the feisty sister of his step mom, Ashtyn Parker. She’s strong headed girl who loves junk food particularly skittles except purple as she is allergic to it, and leads the Fremont Football team. She is dedicated to her athletic career and she won’t let anyone ruin it for her. Not even her gorgeous step nephew.

The author excels in writing dual narrative. I can identify the voice of Derek and Ash quite clearly. Derek was initially pegged as a bad boy but he wasn’t all that; in fact he has this nice attitude lies deeper inside of him. And the reason he was acting like a jerk was because of what has happened to his mother. So yeah, enter the tragic past angle that mold our characters. And while I always complain about it, the thing is this time it wasn’t completely what define Derek and Ash. He was going to run away from everyone so he doesn’t want to get too close with anyone. But somewhere, somehow he still showed who he real was: a caring guy but a bit broken inside. I loved his relationship with Julian, his step brother. He understands the boy and his situation of having no father figure with his dad constant MIA status. Also, I thought he would have a cold relationship with Brandi, his step mom, but it wasn’t all that. In fact he was trying to accommodate her being his guardian despite how near their age.

On the other hand, I wasn’t all that impressed with Ashtyn. She runs hot then cold and back again. I don’t understand her and her fickle mindedness. One moment she was this strong girl, captain of the football team then suddenly she will shift to this naïve girl desperate for help. I want her to be honest with herself. There’s nothing wrong admitting you’re weak. And for me there’s nothing wrong that sometimes we want to be rescued. I wanted her to be real.

Ah the romance, this is what I love most about her books. It just perfectly blended to me. Not too overpowering, a bit cliché with just a right amount of steaminess to spice things up. They are constantly arguing with each other that brought out their scorching chemistry. At the beginning Ash was with this jerk, Landon, who obviously not the right guy for her. And while most of the moments between Derek and her were predictable, I still can’t help but feel this funny little tingle inside. I’m such a hopeless romantic.

What make this memorable to me was Derek’s grandmother and Ash’s dog Falkor. I know, what made an old lady and a dog stood out for me? They’re vibrant and unpredictable characters. I love his grandmother! I thought she is this snob arrogant wealthy woman who’ll get in the way but she was not (she didn’t get in their way but she was snob and loaded). She’s actually funny without even trying. Manipulative but good. And Falkor? He’s a dog and he’s good at it, haha. Just go ahead and read it.

I received an eARC from Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) via Netgalley. Thank you.

Preview Quote: “Everyone has a purpose in life, he once told me. Finding out yours is crucial to knowing who you are and what you wnat to be.” — His dad to Derek (from Uncorrected Digital Galley)